Every time I'm on the Renfe train into the city, the same old man plays harmonious tunes on his accordion. This should become a legal requirement for every entry into a new city. I melt every time. Oh man it's more comforting than the spoonful of Skippy peanut butter I have every day for breakfast.
Barcelona was really the city that took the most out of us. We were on the constant move, and still not quite fully recovered from the night of my birthday nor the night from Hell in the London airport. But there was no time for recovery! Upon our arrival the afternoon of December 31st our French friends (!!!!!!!!!!!!) were ready to get going on the New Year's Celebrations!
Let me take a moment to talk about these French friends of ours. These dashing Europeans! These 4 guys hosted Alex, another friend, and me in Paris 2 years ago through CouchSurfing. We immediately hit it off with this eclectic crew. So funny, so kind, so entertaining, so French (well, that won me over anyway haaaaaaa), such good hosts, such an enchanting group to be around! At all times! They were just some of the greatest people we'd ever met, and every moment we've shared with some has been a pure delight. After our initial trip to visit them in Paris, I returned to Paris to get around to other places I had missed. Our French friends were still as wonderful and hospitable as the first time around. And now here we are, 2 years later, meeting up with them in Barcelona to celebrate New Years! Who woulda thought?! I think we have solidified the permanence of our friendships, et ils savent qu'ils sont toujours invites a Chicago :)
The amount of screaming that occurred when we finally met back up with them was hilarious. Mostly because I think that there was more screaming from the guys' side than ours.What a surreal moment, to be in one of my favorite cities, with my friends from home, and friends from Paris! The first thing we did was grab lunch at some shabby little bar. Undoubtedly the worst meal I've ever had in Spain. But that couldn't bring me down! The beer was good, the company was awesome, and probably the greatest thing about it all was that around our table you could hear the French guys speaking French to each other, us Americans speaking English to each other, me throwing out any and all French phrases that I knew, and me and others speaking Spanish to the waiter. Pure artistry. I would love to live a trilingual life like that someday!
After lunch us Americans took a much needed nap while the French went off to explore or...actually I have no idea what they went to do. All I know is that as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out for the count, undoubtedly drooling, and catching up on the various hours of sleep I'd missed the days before.
When we woke up it was time to make a nice little American-French hybrid family dinner. We wanted to make our French friends a traditional American meal so...we made cheeseburgers. And by we, I mean, Kevin is a huge bossy pants and made it all by himself. But I assembled the salad!!!! Hahaha in turn, our French friends prepared us a french appetizer of sliced baguettes with french cheese, and they also provided our favorite dessert, CREPES! I cannot stress enough the trance I go into when I take a bite of one of these crepes. Our French friends are magicians in the art of crepe-making...
The rest of the New Year's Eve celebrations only got exceedingly more enjoyable. We eventually made it out to my favorite place in Barcelona, Monjuic, with some cava (Spanish champagne) in hand to ring in the new year. Oh it was goooooooorgeous. From 11:50 until about 12:30 there seemed to be a constant stream of cava getting sprayed somewhere up on the top of Montjuic. The illegal vendors of alcohol who linger up there at the top totally made a killing that night! In that same time frame, there was a constant shout of "BONNE ANNÉE!" Oh man it will be one of the best memories I have of these 8 months in Europe, I'm certain. We didn't complete the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, unfortunately. Well, we actually didn't really attempt it at all. The grapes at the grocery store we went to looked wrinkly and petrified, so we opted against purchasing them.
|Our lovely international group :)|
While we may have failed to follow the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, we were not about to miss out on the tradition of eating churros con chocolate for breakfast on New Year's Day. It was my first time having churros this time around in Spain, so I quite enjoyed it. What's better than dipping sugar-coated, deep-fried dough into a cup of melted chocolate? Yes, I did continue to drink the cup of chocolate even after the churros were gone. Oh man, diabetes is knocking on my doorstep.
|Kevin and me at Park Guell|
For dinner that night we headed to the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona for a tapas experience! It was our last meal with our French friends so we enjoyed lots of food and wine together. Looking on the menu I was pleased with the fact that I was very familiar with pretty much all of the tapas listed, although they were from different parts of Spain. For example, one menu item was "Pulpo a la Gallega", which is the octopus served here in Galicia. This meal was also infused with three different languages, and that combined with a slight wine haze made for a great dinner. We ended our night by stopping by a shady bar with strange regulars who chatted us up. Although the location was quite suspect, with the company we had we could have easily been sharing beers in a dumpster and still have had the time of our lives!
Our last full day in Barcelona was a busy one. We woke up and had to say goodbye to our French friends :( Nous nous verrons au printemps, mes amies! Luckily we had a full day to occupy ourselves and had no time to sulk over this goodbye. We had a tour of La Sagrada Familia, which was AMAZING. The previous times that I've been in Barcelona I've only seen the outside of La Sagrada Familia, and I'm so happy I finally got the chance to go inside. The inside is just another world. So much light, so much intricate architecture, so much color. Go Gaudi!!!
|The columns were meant to look like tree trunks, with leaves up at the top|
|Inside La Sagrada Familia|
|A colorful stall in La Boqueria|
P.S. We did not have time to visit Camp Nou, nor to stalk Messi. I trust that he knows in his heart that I love him deeply and will have to come back to see him at a later time.